Minimum wage for liquor servers set to increase in B.C.

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The minimum wage for liquor servers and “other alternate minimum wage earners” – including piece-rate farm workers, resident caretakers and live-in camp leaders – will be increasing soon, B.C.’s Minister of Labour Harry Bains announced April 19.

The liquor server wage will be eliminated by 2021. Currently, the general minimum wage in B.C. is $12.65 per hour, but the minimum wage for liquor servers is $10.10 per hour.

“No one working for minimum wage, full-time, year-round, should be living in poverty,” Bains said. “Workers deserve a minimum level of protection so that, regardless of a person’s job description, they don’t earn a wage that is distinctly less than the general minimum wage.”

The wages for liquor servers will be increasing incrementally beginning June 1. It will continue to increase yearly until June 1, 2021, when it will reach parity with minimum wage, which will be at least $15.20 per hour at that time.

Restaurants Canada vice-president for Western Canada Mark von Schellwitz said the restaurant industry is disappointed with the announcement, calling it “short-sighted.”

“Clearly the Fair Wages Commission has no understanding of how our industry works as their recommendations will make life less, not more, affordable for both liquor servers and non-tipped employees,” he said. “Liquor servers have by far the highest earnings of all hourly employees in a licensed restaurant or bar when you factor in their gratuities.

“The liquor server wage is important to our licensed members as it allows licensed restaurateurs to provide higher wages to attract and retain skilled non-gratuity earning kitchen staff, especially during the current labour shortage.”

Wages for piece-rate farm workers are set to increase 11.5% January 1, 2019. They will continue to be paid based on the amount of produce they harvest by hand. Resident caretakers – who currently have a minimum wage of $681 plus $27.29 per suite each month – will also see an 11.5% raise. Live-in camp leaders’ minimum wage is also set to increase by the same amount until they reach $121.65 per day in 2021. Live-in home-support workers will see the abolishment of their alternate minimum wage, and will qualify for the general minimum wage.

Currently, only B.C., Quebec and Ontario have alternate minimum wages for servers.

ecrawford@biv.com

@EmmaHampelBIV